Reflections on my Austin Trip

I just got back from Mephit Fur Meet! Before I got there I spent a few days in Austin, TX, near where I used to life. It impacted me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I lived in Austin for four years. I’ve been here in CA for 21 months.

At this point in my life in Austin, I felt much more at home than I do here in CA. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is so.

A few things have come to mind. The main thing is that I live in Alameda. I like the town a whole lot, but leaving via car is difficult. There’s four bridges and one tunnel to get off the island. That’s it. (I take the ferry to work, I don’t drive.) The bridges dump you onto I-880, which is ALWAYS backed up. Even at 3am. And heaven help you if you have to get onto I-80.

The tunnel drops you off into a part of Oakland, where, as a translady, I do not feel safe. I have been harassed and catcalled there more than anywhere else combined. It it just a very toxic place and I don’t like to go there. When I do take the tube I refuse to get out of my car until I get to my destination.

I tend to leave the island via car two or three times a month, at the most. I will go weeks at a time where the only time I leave is via ferry to get to work.

When I do decide to try to leave the island, I have to make sure that I REALLY want it. It’s a big commitment. The level of effort needed to leave the island is huge. I can’t predict how long the trip will be.

When I was in Austin last week I took myself on a tour of some of the old places where I used to go hang out, and it was just kinda refreshing to me that I could just drive places and it was no big deal.

I went into a grocery store, and parking was free and abundant. (Neither of those happen here. Even if parking is free, it’s usually hard to get.) When I got inside it was “just a grocery store.” It wasn’t a place where the products are 100% organic, GMO-free, and they sing songs to the kale twice a day so that it doesn’t feel bad. It was… just a grocery store.

When I went out to lunch with my old team, at the end of the lunch we went to Starbucks in the mall across the street from the office. It was no big deal… we were able to find parking, get out, get our stuff, and get back in a hurry. I’ve tried going to a mall three times since I’ve been here, and only one trip was successful. The other two times I couldn’t find parking, and one of those times people kept honking at me and cutting me off, and I got so stressed out that I broke down and started crying in the parking garage. 😦

(I haven’t even though about going to a mall here since then.)

Two years into my stay in Austin I had way more friends than I have here. It’s not because I don’t know people here – I do – but a lot of them are in the South Bay, and it might as well be China. Getting from the East Bay to the South Bay can, literally, take hours, all because of traffic.

For goodness sakes, I pay $2000/mon in rent, and I’m back to using a laundromat like I did in college. I don’t even have a dishwasher. Sigh.

Then there’s the issue of the constant fear that I may come home some day to a notice on my door that my rent is going up up 30%. That’s happened to a bunch of people in my building… there’s 31 units in this building, and five turned over just last month for this very reason. The uncertainty about where I’ll be living at the end of the year totally sucks. (My lease runs out 12/31.)

So I have been asking myself if the quality of life I have here is better than I had in Austin, and that’s not an easy question to answer.

I love my job. It is the best job I’ve ever had. (Really, that’s what keeps me here! If I didn’t have that, I’d have left a long time ago.) It really makes a lot of it worth it, but is it worth the burden of living here? I don’t know.

But here’s the thing… my job would let me move, if I really wanted to. We have offices in other parts of the country, and some folks work remotely 100% of the time.

Making it even more complex is that I feel somewhat like a failure. I’d wanted to live in the Bay Area for a long time. Now I’m here, and I’m learning that it’s not as cracked up as it seems. I like this part of the country because this is where my industry is located – I work in the Internet industry and most of it happens right here. Sometimes I’ll look at the address of a company when I’m looking at their website, and realize that their office is just a few blocks away from mine… and I think that’s pretty cool.

I made it! I’m where I wanted to be. But now that I’m here… well, it’s hard. :\

I’m not going to do anything quickly. My lease is up at the end of the year, and if it doesn’t go up by much, I might just stay for at least another year. I don’t know.

I doubt I’d go back to Austin, since Texas’s protections for transgender people is nearly non-existent. But there are other parts of the country that I haven’t seen (and even other parts of the Bay Area), and a lot of those are very welcoming to transgender folks. We’ll see, I guess.

Siiiiiigh. :\

Luck

I am one of the luckiest girls in the world, I think.

I said something last night that I am so lucky to be able to say, and it just now occurred to me what I said.

The summer summit at work is coming up in a few months, and I’ve been invited to go. It’s in Boston this year, so that means I have to fly out to Boston for a week. While we’re there there will be a swimming party, which is kinda a tradition for the Boston office.

Except, I’ve never been in a bathing suit post-transition. I don’t own one. I’ll have to get one. That in and of itself is kinda scary, but I can deal.

What I said to the lady that does electro on my face is this: “Oh, I’m not worried. It’ll be in the safest environment I could be in, really. It’s just my coworkers. They all know who I am, my story, support me, and really love me. I couldn’t ask for a safer and better place to go out in a bathing suit for the first time, really.”

Wow.

Yeah, so, that’s just normal to me, but wow am I lucky. Most transwomen fight just to stay employed as they transition, but I’m in a place where not only do I not have to do that, but they love me and are 100% behind me and supportive.

Yay. ❤

Yaaaaaay!

This afternoon I received a letter from my doctor with all of the correct things mentioned and signed by the right people certifying that I have completed my transition from male to female.

I am now legally female. 🙂

I have waited for this day for a looooooooong time. I am giddy. ❤

At a Crossroad

I had an interesting therapy session a few days ago. I’m at a big crossroad in my life.

For the last three years, transition has consumed my life. It was July of 2012 that it began, and it’s winding down fast. I’m not “done” and won’t be for another year, but all of the big things – things like coming to terms with being trans, coming out of the closet, telling family, going full time as a female, changing my name, getting on HRT, and surgery – are now done. At this point, it’s just riding out the rest of HRT and finishing up my electro. (Which is coming along very nicely.)

And of course, the next step, enjoying life. 🙂

What we talked about in therapy is something I’ve written about here many times, the church. I left the church at the start of transition. It’s really the thing that was holding me back, and it was the turning point that finally let me be myself. But I left the church so quick that there’s still a lot I need to work on there… it was just something I had to do, but I didn’t really take the time to understand it all.

I watched a movie called “Saved!” last week. It’s on NetFlix. I had to watch it twice. The first time took a few days because it was just too much for me and I had to watch it in pieces. The second time I was able to watch it all at once and actually enjoy it.

It’s clear that the movie was written by ex-Christians like myself. They nailed the church scenes. It was exactly like how it is in real life, and as I was watching it, I found myself thinking “Wow I miss that,” which scared me. I had to remind myself that no, I don’t miss it. I miss certain parts of it – like the camaraderie with other people – but I do not believe in God. We talked about how there ARE churches that are welcome of transwomen, but I quickly decided that that’s not a good idea. It wouldn’t be genuine… I wouldn’t be there for the reason other people are there. In many ways it would be worse than before.

Something my therapist brought up is that the church was a good chunk of my social structure, and I haven’t really replaced it. He’s right about that.

For a while I had hoped that I could make the furry fandom take some of that, but it’s just not working out. I’m too old. I’m also asexual, and that’s just not common there. Second Life helps, a lot, but I often miss having people in the same physical place as me.

I’ve thought about what to work on next. One of the things I had in Austin was the House Rabbit Resource Network (HRRN). I had some friends there that enjoyed me, and I enjoyed them. We had our mutual love of bunny rabbits between us, and we had a mission to help save the lives of rabbits. Maybe I should look for a group like that here to get involved in.

Who knows. It just so weird that something that had consumed my life – finances, time, emotions, everything – for so long is winding down.

On the Other Side

So I am now a post-op transsexual female. It feels amazing to be able to say that. 🙂

I will remember last week for forever, I think. I had to go two weeks without estrogen before surgery, so I went into last week in a really funky state. I wasn’t very happy and certainly did not feel normal.

On Sunday I picked up a very close friend friend from the airport. (We aren’t joking when we say we’re “like family.” We really are, and we act like it!) We didn’t do a lot that day, other than just hang out here and enjoy each other’s company and some time together. For dinner we found this amazing vegan Chinese place in Oakland that has this really amazing fried rice. It has raisins and stuff in it, and it’s heavenly.

Monday was our day to go hang out together, except I didn’t really sleep the night before. My nerves were getting the best of me at that point. I had a pre-op doctor’s appointment in the morning, which my friend came along with, and then we stopped at a BART station on the way home and took a train downtown.

We walked around Chinatown a bit to one of her favorite places – another vegan Chinese place that’s a bit off the beaten path. The food was also amazing, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Afterwards, I was really dragging… mostly from lack of sleep, but I made some stupid decisions and didn’t drink enough water that morning. (I was still on spiro, which is a strong diuretic.)

After lunch I taught my friend the wonders of Uber, and we got a lift to the hospital where I was to have surgery the next day. We went inside, figured out where I was suppose to go, who to go see, etc, so that the following day, on Tuesday, this wouldn’t be an issue. I’m very glad we did, because we struggled to find it… but it was no big deal, because we weren’t under a time crunch.

After that we walked to the Muni station, took the Muni train to a BART station, and then took BART back home. Once we got home we were home and just basically vegged out in front of the TV the rest of the night.

Tuesday was surgery day.

We got up around 4:00am and got to the hospital by 6:00am. I was a bundle of nerves. If there’s one thing to be said about my friend and I, it’s that we feed off each other. She was just as bad as I was, and had tummy problems before we left the house.

We took an Uber to get there to save both of us the stress of trying to take public transit while really tried and super stressed out. Smart move. The Uber driver loved us to death, and offered to come pick us up on the way home, but I declined because I didn’t know when we were going to get home. He understood.

While we were in the car to the hospital I started a large texting group with a bunch of people, and the handed my phone to my friend. She kept the group informed of how I was doing. I asked them to treat the group as read-only, but, uh, my friends are furs, and they did was furs do. Talk. Lots. Oh well. 🙂

Once we were at the hospital we got all checked in, and then sat around for a little bit. After the nurses got there (we got there super early, not knowing what traffic was going to be like), they took us up to my room and started the pre-op stuff, like weighing me, getting an IV in, etc.

Surgery itself was not that big of a deal.

They wheeled me into the pre-op “holding area” and I got to see the surgeon and the anesthesiologist while awake. They both asked me a lot of questions. I was in there what felt like forever, but I don’t really know because I was sooo nervous. They never did give me something to calm me down, unlike other times I’ve had surgery.

When I got to the OR itself I was impressed how small it was. The table was very small. There was a thingy blowing warm air on it when I got there, so it was super warm once I got on the table, which was nice. They made me get on the table myself, which I thought was odd, but whatever. 🙂

The table was so small that they had to go get things for my arms to rest on, which they hooked up and strapped me into it. I thought that was also odd. They hooked up a heart rate monitor, and it showed my heart was going 160 BPM, which didn’t surprise me as I was so nervous.

Shortly after the heart rate monitor was connected they put a mask on me and did the “I’m going to give you some oxygen” thing, which of course isn’t oxygen at all… and the next thing I remember, I’m in the recovery room.

I was in recovery quite a while. I came out of if it really slowly. I remember sitting there with a nurse slowly feeding me ice chips, which I liked, because my mouth was really dry from the breathing tube they put in while I was under.

Coming out of it is always a weird feeling. I was only aware of a tiny bit of myself at first – just my head and my chest, but I slowly started becoming more and aware of the rest of my body. I remember panicking at one point as I came out of it because I couldn’t feel anything, but it passed quickly.

After this they wheeled be back to my room. My friend was waiting for me out in the hallway, and you have no idea how good it was to see her again. She followed us up to my room, and we hung out there for a while while I woke up all of the way.

The nurse brought me a few little things of juice, which I quickly finished. She could tell I was super thirsty, but warned me not to drink too much just yet. That didn’t last long, as eventually my friend went somewhere and turned with three 20oz bottles of Coke Zero, which I consumed before we even left the hospital.

As we were getting ready to leave we learned a bit about my nurse, Betsy. She had an HRC sticker on her ID badge, and she outted herself to us as gay as we were getting ready to leave. We also found out she was also a huge rabbit person (she called rabbits her “spirit animal”), and we talked about buns for a little bit. She was the perfect nurse for me, I think.

Once I got on my feet I was able to go use the restroom in my hospital room alone, which was great. Then I got dressed, and we walked out to the front. It was around 2pm at this point. Another Uber was dispatched, and we began the ride home.

The ride home was hard. There was a stalled car on the Bay Bridge and it created a lot of traffic. I nearly had a panic attack in the car (not sure why – most likely because I was still coming out of it), but we got home in one piece.

Upon arriving we sent one final text to the big group letting them know I was home safely, and then recovery began. Dinner that night was Chipotle, delivered by my new friends at Darling Courier.

The rest of the week is kinda a blur. For the most part it was just my friend and I at my house watching movies, eating meals, and enjoying each other’s company. Lots of jokes were told at my expense (things like “I’m a little less nuts,” “I feel like someone just cut my balls off,” and of course, lots of silly references to babyfurs with my friend having to “change” me – meaning replace the feminine pads that were soaking up blood from the incision).

We built a blanket fort one night and laid on the floor having fun watching movies. It was a really comforting thing having someone here to be with me that week. I’m sure I could have managed it solo, but with someone else here… it was just so much better. I knew things were going to be okay.

So that’s that. I’m now on the other side, and it feels wonderful. ❤

A Heart-Warming Experience

A very heart-warming thing happened today.

I have a friend that flew into town to spend this week with me. She and I are quite close. Our relationship is very strictly platonic, but it’s kinda hard to see that from the outside, as we’re often seen doing things like holding hands and hugging.

While checking in at the hospital this morning, when I was asked who to contact in the case of emergency, I told them my friend. (She was sitting next to me.) She gave the hospital her name and phone number. When asked what our relationship was she said “we’re very close friends, like family,” and that was that. No other questions were asked.

They gave her a form to sign that stated this, which gave them permission to talk about me with her, which she signed, and that was that. From that moment on, it’s as if we were a couple. She was allowed into my room, could come see me as I left the recovery room and everything. When I came out of the OR, the surgeon went to visit with her and told her how things went, etc, just like they would for a spouse.

This evening the surgeon called my house to check on me, but rather than call me, he called her. (A very nice gesture indeed.)

The way the hospital treated us was the highlight of the day. They didn’t let the fact that we’re not a married couple get in the way, and simply treated us in the way we wanted to be treated. It gives me hope that things are getting better in the future. ❤